For the third year in a row, San Luis Obispo County has not been granted any new general liquor licenses or a type 47 liquor license.
With high demand for the permits, they’re selling for about 15 times their original price.
"Having liquor can definitely make or break a business, but at the same time, so can the cost of getting one [liquor license]," said Jared Ruiz, a bartender at The Mark, which was once Marston’s in downtown San Luis Obispo.
Their liquor license was transferred over to the new owners, something they know they’re lucky to have.
"The last liquor license in this town sold for $226,000, which is a sizable chunk of money," Ruiz said.
Right now, 129 businesses in San Luis Obispo County have been authorized by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to sell beer, wine, and liquor.
In order for the department to grant more licenses, the population would need to increase by 2,000 people.
"There’s a certain number of licenses for every 2,500 residents of a county," said Dean Vasquez, Vice President of Sales at License Locators Incorporated.
License Locators helps businesses across the state sell and buy liquor licenses. They say San Luis Obispo County is a unique market.
"There is a disproportionate number of restaurants or venues that have full liquor licenses as compared to a population. They’re not issuing more licenses because the population in the county is not growing near as much as the tourist population is," Vasquez said.
It’s also one of the most expensive counties in the state if you’re buying a liquor license from another business.
A license sold directly from the Department of Alcoholic Beverages is around $15,500. Once the business has that license for two years, they can sell it for whatever the market will handle.
"The highest I’ve seen is $225,000 and the lowest I’ve seen is about $190,000," Vasquez said.